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The Hydrogen Economy

Campaign Overview

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Hydrogen Economy Campaign Overview

We are in the early stages of a historic change in the way we organize the Earth's energy. The industrial age, which began with the carrying of coal from Newcastle several hundred years ago, is now winding down in the oil fields of the Middle East. Many petrogeologists tell us that global production of oil will likely peak as early as 2010 or as late as 2037. Peak refers to the point at which half of the known reserves of cheap crude oil are exhausted. Beyond that point, prices will begin to rise dramatically and continue to do so as society slides down the backside of the production bell curve.

Meanwhile, a new energy regime looms on the horizon. Hydrogen has the potential to end the world's reliance on oil. It will dramatically cut down on carbon dioxide emissions and mitigate the effects of global warming. And, because hydrogen is so plentiful, people who have never before had access to electricity will be able to generate it.

In the new era, every person with access to renewable energy sources could become a producer, as well as a consumer, of his own energy. The hydrogen economy makes possible a broad redistribution of power, with far-reaching beneficial consequences for society. In the new era, businesses, municipalities and homeowners could become the producers as well as the consumers of their own energy-so-called "distributed generation." Even the automobile itself is a "power station on wheels" with a generating capacity of twenty kilowatts. Since the average car is parked most of the time, it can be plugged in, during non-use hours, to the home, office, or the main interactive electricity network, providing premium electricity back to the grid. If just 25 percent of drivers used their vehicles as power plants to sell energy back to the grid, all of the power plants in the country could be eliminated.

The hydrogen economy will make possible a vast redistribution of power, with far-reaching consequences for society. In order to make this happen, it will be necessary to redesign the power grid. That's where the software and computer revolution converge with the new hydrogen energy regime. The same design principles and smart technologies that made possible the internet, and vast, decentralized global communication networks, will be used to reconfigure the world's power grids so that people can begin to share energy peer-to-peer, just like they now share information, creating a new, decentralized form of energy use.

The Hydrogen Economy campaign is an amalgam of efforts to promote the introduction of a hydrogen economy around the world. FET sponsored initiatives include the formation of the U.S. Green Hydrogen Network, composed of many of the leading U.S. environmental organizations, the FET Global Scientific and Technology Advisory Team, and Hydrogen Cities, representing scores of municipalities committed to promoting a hydrogen future.

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